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CADRE DEPLOYMENT

Axed Buffalo City mayor claims ANC told him to hire its preferred municipal manager

Axed Buffalo City mayor claims ANC told him to hire its preferred municipal manager
Axed Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality mayor, Xola Pakati. (Photo: Supplied)

Fired Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality mayor Xola Pakati has dropped a bombshell letter claiming his party, the ANC, directed him to hire its preferred candidate as a municipal manager.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape announced last week that its Provincial Working Committee (PWC) had resolved to recall the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) executive mayor, Xola Pakati. The ANC cited its unhappiness with how the mayor was doing his job as the reason for the recall.

“A thorough internal organisational consultation process was followed and the affected deployee has been informed,” said Gift Ngqondi, the ANC’s provincial head of communications.

“The decision has been taken after due consideration and assessment by the ANC PWC on the performance of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.”

He also announced that the provincial leadership had submitted three names to the national officials for an interview process. After a candidate is approved, Pakati will resign as mayor and become an ordinary member of the council.

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Deputy Mayor Princess Faku, who is also the ANC WB Rubusana regional chair, is tipped to become the next mayor.

For years, residents have criticised BCMM’s billing system, which often overcharges them. Starting in 2018, the municipality has spent more than R328-million on electricity and water smart meter projects, but the issues persist.

The municipality was also threatened with court action over sewage spills into Gonubie Estuary, Nahoon Estuary and Quenera Estuary. Other complaints by residents include pothole-riddled roads.

In a letter leaked to Daily Maverick and written by Pakati to the ANC national leaders in Luthuli House, he expressed disappointment at his recall. He said he did not agree with it, but accepted the decision.

Pakati said he was told of the decision by Provincial Secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi at the Dr WB Rubusana regional general council on 5 March, and that no reasons had been given to him for his recall.

“Less than 30 minutes after leaving the stage, I was called by a journalist asking when I would be resigning because I had been instructed to step down,” reads the letter.

Read more in Daily Maverick:The dangers and limits of the DA’s high court attempt to abolish cadre deployment

Pakati said the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) issued a statement which gave reasons for his recall, and that, “The PEC has been conducting highly problematic media interviews which are devoid of truth and impact negatively on my reputation.”

‘I did not disobey the ANC’

He denied disobeying ANC instructions and lacking urgency.

“Throughout the years that I have been Executive Mayor, I have acceded to all deployment committee decisions of the ANC and PEC directives. Amongst the decisions that I have been instructed to take are the following:

  • I have appointed the exact Mayoral Committee that I was given by the Provincial Executive Committee.
  • I have ensured that the City Manager that the ANC wanted from the shortlisted candidates is appointed.
  • I have ensured that certain delegations are given to the Deputy Executive Mayor as instructed, including all oversight and leadership related to the Buffalo City Metropolitan Development Agency.”

Pakati later contradicted himself in the letter, saying: “I always tell the City Manager and the administration to appoint the right person for the job.”

Former Senqu Local Municipality manager Mxolisi Yawa was appointed as BCMM municipal manager, replacing Andile Sihlahla after his five-year term ended in 2022.

Provincial spokesperson Loyiso Magqashela said: “We can just assure that everything that is contained in the letter… Xola [Pakati] remains responsible to respond to every sentence contained there, not the ANC. They do their recruitment process themselves away from the ANC. He still needs to come to us. We have no knowledge of what he is talking about.”

Dr Vicky Knoetze, a member of the DA’s Eastern Cape provincial legislature said: “By trying to hang on to his job through implementing cadre deployment, [Pakati] has inadvertently hung himself.

“By assisting with the deployment of cadres who clearly cannot deliver services… he has created the environment that has been used to justify his removal. Unless you deal with cadre deployment, you will simply be shuffling the deck chairs on the already sinking Titanic.” DM

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